Photo by T. Charles Erickson
Nael Nacer is one Boston’s finest actors. From his revelatory performance last season in A Number at New Repertory Theatre to his incredible ensemble work earlier this year in Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play at Lyric Stage, his performances are invariably distinguished.
Beginning Nov 11, Nacer slips between the sheets for a rare revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s hilarious Bedroom Farce at the Huntington Theatre Company. The production will be directed by Maria Aitken (The 39 Steps), who starred in the original London production in 1978.
I’m a big fan of yours. I always look forward to seeing you perform.
Oh man, thank you so much!
And the stuff you do is so different role to role.
I love that. I love being able to do that. That’s how it stays fun.
What kind of roles do you gravitate towards?
I feel like I have phases where I gravitate towards the intense roles and then I sort of need a breather from those, because they can take their toll a little bit, which is why Bedroom Farce is so great to do, because it’s just a big comedy; there isn’t a lot of character baggage. I mean, they’re real characters, but it’s just a comedy. And then probably after that I’ll be really excited to do another drama.
Your character, Nick, he doesn’t do a whole lot of moving throughout this play.
No. It’s challenging. It’s a new thing to have to figure out how to be expressive without being able to use my body. In a weird way, being as still as I have to be in the bed is harder than being free to move. I didn’t anticipate that.
Tell me about Nick. He’s kind of a tough nut to crack.
Yeah, he is. He’s in a foul mood from lights up because he’s so frustrated that he’s incapacitated. I’m trying to figure out what kind of a person he is when he’s not at this level of frustration. But I think, in general, he’s probably a tough nut even outside of this extraordinary—not extraordinary, it’s a backache, but it’s sort of an epic night for him.
Are you married?
Yes, I’m married. We’re expecting our first child in February.
So what does this play get right about married life?
Something really interesting about the four couples is that they’re all very different relationships, but they all could be part of one relationship. Nothing’s ever really one thing, so I think it gets right the fact that people can love each other and know each other very well and not look at each other while they’re having a conversation. You know, there’s something about the comfort with which some of these characters relate to one another just by virtue of sharing their lives with their partners. The intimacy of the mundane, in a way.
Bedroom Farce is not a play that’s done very much. What do you think is exciting about it now?
One of the great things about doing this play now, or being able to see a play like this now, is that it’s a momentary release from all of the election news and all the negativity that’s going on. It’s really two hours where you can just come in and laugh and, to me, that’s a really worthy thing that art can do.
I think it’s amazing that Maria Aitken worked on the original production.
We are in such good hands. She knows this stuff so well, and I could not ask for a better captain of this ship. She’s amazing and very, very supportive. You just have so much faith in your director in a case like this, and she’s so generous with us.
You worked with her before, on The Seagull.
Yes, and so I knew that I would really enjoy this. I knew that this would be a great experience before we started rehearsals. It feels great to work with her again. It’s always nice to work with someone you’ve worked with before. It’s great to have an experience with someone you haven’t, but there’s a little more comfort once you’ve been through it once. I knew from the first day that I was going to be able to trust anything and everything she was giving. She has a great eye for detail and is careful about each and every character. I remember thinking during The Seagull how wonderful it was that she took such good care of my character even though there were scenes where I was in the background. I thought, “Wow, she has her eye on the whole thing.” I think it makes for a really rich world.
BEDROOM FARCE. 11.11–12.11 AT THE HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY, 264 HUNTINGTON AVE., BOSTON. HUNTINGTONTHEATRE.ORG